One of history’s most prized gemstones is the tourmaline. Notable for its variety of dazzling, bright colors, tourmaline has often been mistaken for other gemstones such as sapphire or emerald. First discovered in the 1500s, the popularity of tourmaline skyrocketed in the 1800’s and 1900’s primarily due to its popularity in Asia.
While for years the United States remained one of the biggest mining sites for tourmaline, newer discoveries of mines in Brazil, Afghanistan, and Madagascar have produced some of the worlds finest tourmalines and reignited its popularity worldwide. Here are some of the world’s most notable tourmalines.
The Ethereal Carolina Divine Paraiba
The Guiness world record holder for largest tourmaline belongs to the Ethereal Carolina Divine Paraiba. Weighing in at a whopping 192 carats, this paraiba completely eclipsed the previous record holder of 52 carats. Paraiba Tourmalines in general are extremely rare, with one being mined for every 10,000 diamonds.
This record-breaking tourmaline is nothing short of remarkable, and has been valued at up to $125 million. It has since been set into a necklace designed by Moneca Kaufman, named the Paraiba Star of the Ocean Jewels.
Empress Tzu Hsi’s Tourmalines
The Empress Tzu Hsi was the last empress of China, reigning from 1835 – 1908. It was well-known that the Empress was obsessed with pink tourmalines, and is often credited for bringing about the first wave of tourmaline popularity in the world. Using her extensive wealth she purchased nearly every gem-quality tourmaline produced in the United States during the later parts of her life. The Chinese government worked closely with Tiffany and Co to export over 120 tons of pink tourmaline rough material, mainly to be used as carvings. The empress adored pink tourmaline so much that when she passed in 1908, she was laid to rest on a pink tourmaline pillow, one of the thousands of pieces in her collection.
Queen Elizabeth’s Tourmaline Brooch
No notable collection of gemstones is complete without a mention of the Crown Jewels of England. They are one of the largest and perhaps most well-known collections in the world. Queen Elizabeth is notable for making several additions herself to this collection and is known to favor colored gemstones over diamonds.
Most recently, she has been pictured donning one of her favorite pieces – the Saskatchewan Tourmaline Brooch. Gifted to her by the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, this brooch was designed by Rachel Mielke. It features diamonds, pearls, and 5 exquisite Madagascar tourmalines set in white gold in a floral pattern.